This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Friday, July 10th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.
New York City is in Phase 3 of reopening now, which includes nail salons, tattoo parlors, and massage facilities as well as recreation like tennis and basketball courts; dog runs are also reopening. A look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is ourregularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.
Here's the latest:
- NY To Allow Nursing Home Visitors For First Time Since Shutdown
- Columbia Is Planning To Hold Some In-Person Classes This Fall, Prompting Criticism From Neighbors
- After Falling, U.S. Deaths From COVID-19 Are Back On The Rise
- After A Quick (And Questionable) COVID Test, Rooftop Pandemic Pool Parties Rage In LIC
- NYC Education Officials Have No Firm Plans Yet To Deal With COVID-19 Outbreaks In Schools This Fall
4:30 p.m. Governor Andrew Cuomo predicted New York and other northeastern states would see an increase in virus cases in the coming weeks.
Speaking with WAMC's Alan Chartock, the governor explained that he felt a rebound was inevitable given the spike in cases elsewhere.
"It’s gonna come back here. It’s like being on a merry-go-round," he said, adding, "I can feel it coming."
The only question, he said, was how high the state's infection rate would rise.
It is not clear whether Cuomo was basing his forecast on the data or discussions with public health officials. As of Thursday, the positivity rate of tests performed statewide was 1.06 percent. New York's positivity rate has generally hovered around 1 percent.
In an effort to prevent the virus from coming from other places, New York has imposed a 14-day quarantine on travelers from states with high infections, a list that has grown from eight to 19 in just two and a half weeks. But some have questioned the state's ability to enforce such a policy. Cuomo has spoken about ramping up checks of passengers at local airports, as well as the possibility of New Yorkers ratting on those who fail to quarantine.
But on Friday, he conceded that screening out-of-state travelers, such as drivers, was difficult.
"It's like trying to catch water in a screen," he said.
The interview with Chartock was free-ranging as usual, with the governor being asked whether he was dating anyone ("No") and if he has a bad back (yes, but not as bad as his father, former governor Mario Cuomo, who suffered from chronic back pain.)
In one final tidbit, Cuomo revealed that he would be traveling next week to visit a state in need of help with the crisis. In recent weeks, he has offered to send ventilators and personnel to Arizona, Texas and Florida.
As with his dating life, he was coy on the details and identity of the state. “I have a number of requests," he said.
NY To Allow Nursing Home Visitors For First Time Since Shutdown
3:45 p.m. For the first time in nearly four months, New York state will allow visitors into nursing homes as long as they have not had any COVID-19 infections for at least 28 days.
The state health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, announced Friday that residents in nursing homes will be allowed two visitors at a time. They must undergo temperature checks, wear face coverings and socially distance during the visit. At least one of the two visitors must be at least 18 years of age or older.
Only 10 percent of residents at each facility can have visitors per day.
In addition, nursing homes must have their visitation plans approved by the state.
Non-essential visitors have been banned from entering nursing homes since March 12th, a move intended to prevent outbreaks which ultimately proved unsuccessful. More than 6,400 nursing home deaths statewide have been linked to the virus, an outcome that critics said could have been avoided had the state implemented better protections.
On Monday, the state Department of Health released a study that said that outbreaks in nursing homes were driven by staff along with visitors who came in prior to the March 12th mandate.
"We will continue to closely monitor the situation in each facility, and make adjustments based on the facts and data moving forward," Zucker said, in a statement. "I know how painful it has been for residents of these facilities to endure such a long period of time without seeing family and loved ones, and my hope is that this adjustment to the visitation policy will provide some comfort to everyone."
Columbia Is Planning To Hold Some In-Person Classes This Fall, Prompting Criticism From Neighbors
1:25 p.m. Columbia University is planning for mostly online classes beginning in September but will allow for some in-person classes by letting faculty members decide how they want to teach.
The school will offer on-campus housing to 60 percent of its undergraduates, marking a partial but still significant return of students to the Morningside Heights neighborhood.
The decision, which was announced Tuesday in an email to students from Columbia President Lee Bollinger, has drawn criticism from the Morningside Heights Community Coalition.
The organization on Friday issued a press release calling on Columbia to discuss their plans with local residents in both Morningside Heights as well as West Harlem, where the university has erected a new multi-billion dollar campus.
"The Columbia plans call for a limited schedule, testing procedures, quarantine requirements, and a 'compact' affirming individual commitments to following all health protocols. But are these plans sufficient? Are they enforceable? We do not know," the release stated.
The group added: "The well-being of the Morningside Heights and West Harlem neighborhoods must be a key factor and our community must play a role in planning for the return of students and others."
Columbia has long had a strained relationship with the community, with many neighbors complaining that the university often fails to solicit their input.
The announcement by Columbia was not a complete surprise. Back in May, the university said it would treat the fall, spring and summer semesters as one academic year, but that some in-person instruction could begin as early as the fall. New York University has similarly adopted a mixed mode of learning options for students.
But at least two large universities have opted against in-person instruction. Harvard on Monday announced that both of its undergraduate and graduate classes would be conducted online for the 2020-2021 academic year. California State University has said nearly all of its classes may remain virtual for the entire academic year.
Columbia's proposal is yet to be authorized by New York state officials, who are approving all reopening plans for educational institutions. In his email, Bollinger said Columbia expects to have "final clearance from the State to proceed by the week of August 10th."
After Falling, U.S. Deaths From COVID-19 Are Back On The Rise
After almost three months of steadily declining, the number of coronavirus deaths in the United States has started to go up again.
As the New York Times points out and other databases show, more than 800 people have died in each of the last three days. Different sources have different case and death counts. By the Times' tally, the three-day total is 60 percent higher than during the same three days last week. The COVID Tracking Project run by The Atlantic, shows the three-day total as 37 percent higher.
Either way, deaths are clearly rising. One of the purported silver linings of the latest surge in virus cases across the United States has been the falling number of deaths. Since mid-April, the national 7-day average of deaths has been falling. Experts, including those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have attributed declining fatalities to the latest outbreaks mostly affecting people under 50 and the possibility that older Americans have been treating the pandemic more seriously and taking more precautions.
In their efforts to downplay the pandemic, the White House has frequently cited the decrease in deaths as a sign that the country is successfully battling back the disease. But experts have warned that deaths are a lagging indicator. And the latest spike in cases in the Sun Belt states have corresponded to an alarming rise in hospitalizations.
According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, whose projection models have been cited by the White House, the country could have more than 200,000 deaths by November.
Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecast predicts that there will likely be between 140,000 and 160,000 total reported COVID-19 deaths by August 1st.
As of Thursday, more than 128,600 people in the U.S. have died from the virus.